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December 2001

David Murray Power Quartet
Like a Kiss That Never Ends
Justin Time Records

We all know David Murray is one of the finest tenor players around. A superb technician, he's mastered the extended saxophone languages developed by free players like Albert Ayler and John Coltrane, and he deploys them to enliven a range of popular genres. While many of his releases in the '90s had a specific focus (tributes to Coltrane and the Grateful Dead, a gospel set with singer Fontella Bass, etc), Like a Kiss That Never Ends packs a comparable variety of music onto a single disc: blues, funk, Latin, impressionistic ballad, plus a lovely coda of Monk's "Let's Cool One" on cavorting bass clarinet.

Murray's swashbuckling approach-brawny tone, bustling power, volatile intervallic leaps-certainly invigorates his material. The most spectacular example is the title track, a compelling tango that is also a tour de force of tenor flamboyance. In contrast, "Dedication" (by bassist Ray Drummond) brings out Murray's delicate side, as he festoons the theme with honeyed tendrils of sound. Not that this is a one-man show. Drummond's solid yet buoyant basslines, Andrew Cyrille's crisp, versatile percussion and John Hicks' efflorescent pianism keep step with the leader throughout. In fact, Cyrille's rapping, militaristic beat on "Like a Kiss" is one of the disc's highlights, as is the dialogue he and Drummond pursue on "Mo' Bass," where deft interplay alternates with heady, frenetic exchanges that recall the glory days of '60s freeform.

Originally published in December 2001
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